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-Lurid Crime Tales-
John Solomon: Once-secret FBI informant reports reveal wider-ranging operation to spy on Trump campaign
[Just The News] nce-secret reports show the FBI effort to spy on the Trump campaign was far wider than previously disclosed, as agents directed an undercover informant to make secret recordings, pressed for intelligence on numerous GOP figures, and sought to find "anyone in the Trump campaign" with ties to Russia who could acquire dirt "damaging to Hillary Clinton."

The now-declassified operational handling reports for FBI confidential human source Stefan Halper — codenamed "Mitch" — provide an unprecedented window both into the tactics used by the bureau to probe the Trump campaign and the wide dragnet that was cast to target numerous high-level officials inside the GOP campaign just weeks before Americans chose their next president in the November 2016 election.

Among the revelations, the memos make clear that:

Almost immediately after the FBI opened a Russia collusion probe on July 31, 2016 narrowly focused on the foreign lobbying of a single Trump campaign aide named George Papadopoulos, agents pressed Halper for information on more than a half dozen other figures, including future Attorney General Jeff Sessions, foreign policy adviser Sam Clovis, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, economic adviser Peter Navarro, future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser Carter Page.

Halper provided significant exculpatory evidence to the FBI — including transcripts of conversations he recorded of targeted Trump advisers providing statements of innocence — that was never disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approved a year of surveillance targeting the Trump campaign, and specifically Page.

While current FBI Director Chris Wray has insisted the bureau did not engage in spying on the Trump campaign, Halper's taskings include many of the tradecraft tactics of espionage, including the creation of a fake cover story (he wanted a job at the Trump campaign), secret recordings, providing background on targets, suggested questions to ask and even contact information for potential targets.

But the memos' most explosive revelations are the sheer breadth of the FBI's insufficiently predicated dragnet targeting the Trump campaign, and the agents' clearly stated purpose of thwarting any Trump campaign effort to get dirt from Russia that could hurt his Democratic rival.

"The Crossfire Hurricane investigative team is attempting to determine if anyone in the Trump campaign is in a position to have received information either directly or indirectly from the Russian Federation regarding the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton," one of the early FBI electronic communications (ECs) from Halper's undercover work stated.

You can read the memos here.

-Lurid Crime Tales-
In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says
[Real Clear Politics] After four years of railing against "deep state" actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials "continuously impeded" their release — usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump's CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe's underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI's work.

"I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn't look good on the agency itself," Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump's term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).

Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.

Although a Department of Justice inspector general's report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed — especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin's orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.

-Lurid Crime Tales-
Woodward appraises DOJ inspector general uncovering FBI's FISA 'glorious mistake'
[Washington Examiner] From one investigator to another, Bob Woodward told Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz he was impressed with his "amazing discovery" of the FBI's missteps in its use of surveillance powers during the inquiry into ties between former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.

Although they hail from completely different spheres, the pair offered a window into how journalism can be quite similar to the work of an independent government watchdog during a virtual discussion hosted by Harvard Law School earlier this month.

Multiple times during the hourlong conversation, moderated by professor Jack Goldsmith, the two looked back at Horowitz's high-profile review completed in December 2019 that criticized the FBI for relying on British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to monitor onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and became a road map for special counsel John Durham's criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation.

-Lurid Crime Tales-
Twenty days of infamy: the January 2017 red flags the FBI blew past on Russia collusion
[Just the News] From its earliest moments, the FBI's Russia collusion probe was always fraught with warning signs.

Agents were told Christopher Steele provided faulty information, had likely been compromised by Russian intel disinformation, wanted to defeat Donald Trump, had leaked to the media and was being paid by Hillary Clinton, who herself might be carrying out an epic dirty political trick to vilify Trump with false information to distract from her own scandals.

Those intelligence reports alone should have given agents pause. The fact that Steele had been terminated by the FBI as an informant for leaking also should have weighed heavily.

But if ever there were red lights screaming for the FBI to end the counterintelligence probe, they were flashing during a harrowing 20-day window in January 2017 as Barack Obama was leaving office and Trump was coming in.

Between Jan. 4, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2017, nearly every major assumption of the FBI's Russia collusion theory was gutted, according to recently declassified evidence reviewed by Just the News.

Months of investigating Trump adviser Mike Flynn had turned up "no derogatory information," and agents recommended shutting down that part of the inquiry after concluding Flynn wasn't aiding Moscow. Two separate informant recordings of Trump adviser Carter Page — the target of an ongoing FISA warrant — produced stunning evidence of innocence.

U.S. intelligence had concluded a key allegation in the Steele dossier was Russian disinformation. And Steele's primary sub-source — whom the FBI assessed was likely tied to Russian intelligence — discounted much of the information attributed to him in the dossier. Even Director James Comey was telling colleagues there wasn't much corroborated in the dossier.


-Lurid Crime Tales-
Smoking FBI gun: Comey told Clapper FBI unable to 'sufficiently corroborate' Steele ‐ then signed FISA
[Just the News] The very day in January 2017 that then-FBI Director James Comey signed a FISA surveillance warrant application declaring content from Christopher Steele's dossier had been "verified," he wrote President Obama's outgoing intelligence community chief with a very different assessment of the British spy's intelligence on Russia collusion, a newly released memo shows.

"We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting," Comey wrote in a Jan. 12, 2017 email to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that was declassified and made public through an open records lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation.

The memo recounts an internal debate inside the U.S. intelligence community during one of the most delicate moments in the FBI's then six-month old Crossfire Hurricane probe.

CIA officials had already informed Comey's FBI that the target of the FISA warrant, Carter Page, wasn't a Russian spy but rather an asset helping U.S. intelligence. The bureau had received warnings about Steele and the reliability of his source network, including that it might have been compromised by Russian disinformation. Agents had also just recommended on Jan. 4, 2017 shutting down the probe's inquiry into incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lack of evidence.

The FBI had been warned the previous summer that Hillary Clinton's campaign may have planted the false Russia collusion story as a way to "vilify" Trump and distract from her email scandal, and agents were about to interview Steele's primary sub-source, who would discount much of the information in the dossier attributed to him as bar talk and unconfirmed rumor not worthy of official intelligence.

Re-post, still no update - Three weeks after Trump declassified Russia memos, most aren't released
[Just The News] More than two weeks after Donald Trump officially declassified the evidence, the vast majority of documents detailing FBI and Justice Department failures in the now-discredited Russia collusion investigation remain out of public view in a delay that has thwarted the former president's goal of sweeping transparency.

Multiple officials tell Just the News that the documents yet to be released include:

  • less redacted versions of the flawed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants that allowed the FBI to target former Trump adviser Carter Page and the Trump campaign for a full year without producing any evidence of wrongdoing.

  • the confidential human source handling documents for informant Stefan Halper showing the specific requests the FBI gave to Halper to spy on Trump campaign officials and the cover story used to justify his contacts with Trump officials during the election.

  • the confidential human source handling documents for informant Christopher Steele, including what he told the FBI at his first meeting on July 5, 2016, when he first approached agents about the dossier.

  • a spreadsheet used to assess the many allegations Steele provided in his infamous dossier showing most were uncorroborated, debunked or traced to open-source Internet rumors or unreliable sources.

  • hundreds of digital messages exchanged on the FBI's internal chat network among the most senior officials in the Crossfire Hurricane probe, including fired Director James Comey, fired Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, fired lead agent Peter Strzok, former bureau lawyer Lisa Page and others.

    Just the News was able to obtain about 15% of the thousands of pages of declassified documents, from a hodgepodge network of White House officials who worked on the declassification, law enforcement and intelligence officials who got their own versions of the declassified documents, and members of Congress who were given copies of some memos in the final days of the Trump presidency.

    Just the News has posted all of those documents, which include explosive revelations like:

  • Four days before the FBI secured a surveillance warrant against him in October 2016, Page repeatedly knocked down the key allegations at the heart of the Russia collusion investigation while unwittingly talking to a government informant who was wearing a wire.

  • As deputy director and acting director, McCabe was repeatedly pressured by FBI officials and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to step aside from the Russia and Clinton email probes because of a perceived conflict of interest.

  • Efforts by Hillary Clinton supporters to craft the Russia collusion narrative to vilify Trump began earlier than previously reported, in April 2016, and eventually involved an "indiscreet" effort to buy foreign video footage that made even Steele uncomfortable.

  • In a 2017 tell-all interview with agents, Steele admitted to the FBI that he leaked the Russia collusion story during the height of the 2016 election to help Clinton overcome her lingering email scandal and because he believed Trump's election would be bad for U.S. relations with his home country of Britain.
    The remaining documents, according to sources who have seen them, provide more details showing just how far the FBI went to deceive the FISA judges in an effort to keep surveilling Page and that the FBI's true target for surveillance was the larger Trump campaign.

    For instance, an August 2016 tasking document for Halper, one of the informants, made clear the FBI's real focus of the investigation was to determine whether "anyone in the Trump campaign is in a position to have received information either directly or indirectly from the Russian Federation regarding the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton," according to a source who took verbatim notes from one of the documents.

    Those documents also show Halper was asked to potentially contact or monitor Trump campaign figures far beyond Page and George Papadopoulos, the two figures publicly acknowledged in the past.

    Among the names that show up in the FBI's operational plan are former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, former Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis and eventual White House adviser Peter Navarro, according to sources interviewed by Just the News.

    The less redacted FISA warrants show, according to sources, that as the FBI failed to develop any evidence that Page was working for Russia — and in fact had worked as an asset for the CIA — it offered the FISA court unusual justifications for continuing to spy on him, including that he espoused foreign policy views deemed favorable to Russia and might be writing a book, two clearly First Amendment-protected activities.

    Also, the internal messages between senior FBI officials on the Russia probe, according to the sources, reveal that McCabe had direct contact with reporters from major news organizations like the New York Times and CNN even as his deputies, like Strzok, viewed the Russia reporting of those organizations as significantly flawed.
  • Link

    -Lurid Crime Tales-
    FBI's desperate pretext to keep spying on Carter Page: He might write a book!
    [Just the News] Nine months into a relentless effort to spy on Carter Page with the most awesome surveillance tools the U.S. possesses, the FBI had no proof the former Trump adviser had colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election.

    In fact, the bureau hid from the FISA court the fact that it knew Page was actually a U.S. asset who had helped the CIA and that in a secret recording with an informant he had denied all the core allegations against him with significant proof.

    But it wanted to keep spying on its target for another three months. So what did the FBI cough up to the FISA judge to keep up its surveillance and its now-debunked claim that Page might be a Russian agent of influence?

    The FBI actually argued that Page's lawful exercise of his First Amendment rights — he was giving media interviews and considering writing a book — might be proof he was carrying out a Russian plot, according to a newly declassified version of the final FISA warrant reviewed by Just the News.

    "The FBI also notes that Page continues to be active in meeting with media outlets to promote his theories of how U.S. foreign policy should be adjusted with regard to Russia and also to refute claims of his involvement with Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election," the once top-secret FISA application read on page 57.

    "The FBI believes that Page may have been instructed by Russian officials to aggressively deny, especially in the media, any Russian involvement with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The FBI believes this approach is important because, from the Russian government's point of view, it continues to keep the controversy of the election in front of the American and world medium, which has the effect of undermining the integrity of the US electoral process and weakening the effectiveness of the current US administration.

    -Lurid Crime Tales-
    DoJ John Durham Russian probe wrapping up, prosecutions unlikely
    [NYP] Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe is predominantly focused on the FBI, though the prosecution of top level officials appears "unlikely," according to a report.

    Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News Monday that Durham completed the CIA portion of his probe last year, shifting recently to the activities of the FBI.

    One source told the network that Durham was pursuing "new and credible leads" through the end of the Trump administration without specifying further.

    A spokesperson for Durham declined to comment when reached by Fox, and did not immediately respond to The Post.

    Durham’s probe has led to the prosecution of one FBI official, lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty last August to doctoring an email that led his agency to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

    Clinesmith was spared jail time and instead sentenced to one year probation and 400 hours of community service.

    -Lurid Crime Tales-
    About The Clinesmith Sentencing -- Color Me 'Not Shocked'
    [Red State] U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg imposed a sentence of one year of probation on Kevin Clinesmth today in connection with his guilty plea to making a "false writing" during the course of his work as an attorney for the FBI on the Crossfire Hurrican investigation at the time it was being run by the Mueller Special Counsel’s Office.

    I telegraphed a bit in this story from a few months ago that Special Prosecutor John Durham wasn’t approaching Clinesmith’s sentencing as the first of many dominos that might fall. But that doesn’t mean that Clinesmith was not valuable as a witness who could be extensively debriefed about both Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller Special Counsel’s Office.

    To recap briefly, Clinesmith was an attorney — not a prosecutor — who worked to provide legal support and assistance to the FBI Agents and analysts working on Crossfire Hurricane. He was with the investigation from the very start and continued on the investigation after it was taken over by Mueller’s team.

    In that time frame, June 2017, preparation was underway to seek a third renewal — for another 90 days — of the FISA electronic surveillance warrant obtained on Carter Page. The original warrant was obtained on October 22, 2016, and it had been renewed twice prior to June 2017.

    In March 2017 Page’s name was leaked to the media as a former Trump campaign official who was suspected of being a Russian Agent, and that he had been under secret surveillance by the FBI for many months.

    Home Front: Politix
    Judge delays sentencing for ex-FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty in Durham inquiry until after Biden inauguration
    [Wash Examiner] A judge delayed the sentencing of a former FBI lawyer ensnared in special counsel John Durham's criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation until after Inauguration Day.

    Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty in August to falsifying a document related to the secret surveillance of 2016 Trump campaign aide Carter Page, now faces a sentencing date of Jan. 29, more than a week after President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office.

    Durham, the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. District to sentence Clinesmith to as many as six months in prison to "send a message that people like the defendant ‐ an attorney in a position of trust who others relied upon ‐ will face serious consequences if they commit crimes that result in material misstatements or omissions to a court."

    Clinesmith's lawyer requested probation and community service for his client, arguing a more lenient sentence would be a "just punishment," as the fired FBI lawyer's "reputation has been ruined, his professional career is in shambles, and he has been unable to support his family financially at a time when he and his wife are expecting their first child."
    "And a pardon"
    Biden has not yet said how he will treat Durham's inquiry, but Attorney General William Barr, who left the role this week, elevated the prosecutor to special counsel status in October, which provides extra protections and independence to complete his work.

    Boasberg reset the sentencing date this week as he set a deadline for responses on Jan. 5. A coalition of victims rights groups filed a motion for relief last week in support of Page's motion for relief under the Crime Victims' Rights Act. Page was suspected of acting on behalf of Russia, but he denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with a crime.

    "If this Court grants Dr. Page the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement before it imposes sentence, then the public will have greater confidence in the case's outcome ‐ which is one of the reasons why Congress included victims in the criminal justice process by enacting the CVRA," they wrote in the filing.
    Kevin Clinesmith: 2020-11-28 Carter Page files $75M suit against FBI, DOJ, others over 'unlawful surveillance'
    Kevin Clinesmith: 2020-11-28 Carter Page Takes Comey, McCabe, Strzok to Court in $75M Obamagate Lawsuit
    Kevin Clinesmith: 2020-09-16 Senate Homeland Security Committee authorizes subpoenas for testimony from Obama officials as part of Russia probe
    Carter Page: 2020-12-22 GEN Mike Flynn: 'The Trump Cavalry Is Coming (video)
    Carter Page: 2020-12-13 Twitter says it ‘inadvertently’ limited engagements on Trump's flagged tweets
    Carter Page: 2020-12-06 Director of National Intelligence says he has given 'thousands of documents to John Durham'

    Home Front: Politix
    GEN Mike Flynn: 'The Trump Cavalry Is Coming (video)
    [US Courier] Former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn said foreign partners can provide evidence that will show there was foreign influence at work in the Nov. 3 election.

    Flynn, speaking to Lou Dobbs Friday on Fox Business, said that interference with elections was linked to the recent extensive infiltration of federal government systems through software made by a company called Solar Winds that was hacked.

    "When we talk about our election security, Lou, I think this is all part of it because there’s a relationship between this Solar Winds attack which has basically penetrated our entire critical infrastructure, as well as our election security," Flynn said.

    "With all of the egregious behavior that we have seen on our elections security, we cannot stand for foreign influence, which we have direct evidence of," he said.

    Although the Electoral College has declared presumptive President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election, the Trump campaign has insisted that there has been voter fraud in states that include Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania.

    Despite multiple anecdotal claims of voting irregularities, proof has yet to surface that there was a widespread effort to distort the voting process in such as way that would have impacted the final results of the presidential election.

    Numerous affidavits testifying to various types of election fraud have been filed in courts in several swing states. These affidavits indicate that those who witnessed conduct believe that fraud took place but those allegations have yet to be proven through either the courts or law enforcement.
    Michael Flynn: 2020-12-21 Good afternoon
    Michael Flynn: 2020-12-21 Chris Christie says Michael Flynn ‘never belongs anywhere near the White House'
    Michael Flynn: 2020-12-13 At least four protesters stabbed during violent clashes between Proud Boys and Antifa after 15,000 Trump fans attended Million MAGA March in DC; in Washington state demonstrator shot at 'Stop the Steal' rally
    Mike Flynn: 2020-12-19 Pardon Everyone
    Mike Flynn: 2020-10-14 Bill Barr's ‘Unmasking' Probe Into Obama Officials Concludes without Charges
    Mike Flynn: 2020-08-10 ‘ There Were a Lot of Republicans Involved’– Steven Schrage – The Man Who Introduced Deep State Spy Stefan Halper to Carter Page Holds First Interview

    Twitter says it ‘inadvertently’ limited engagements on Trump's flagged tweets
    Such smugly vile people.
    [AlAhram] Twitter Inc said on Saturday it had "inadvertently" limited engagements for a brief period on U.S. President Donald Trump
    ...Perhaps no man has ever had as much fun being president of the US...
    's tweets with "disputed" labels but later reversed its action.

    Some users on the social media platform had noticed earlier on Saturday that the ability to like, re-tweet or reply to Trump's tweets with a "disputed" label was not working.

    "We inadvertently took action to limit engagements on the labeled Tweet you referenced. This action has been reversed", a Twitter front man told Rooters in an emailed statement.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    The development was earlier reported by The Verge and The Hill.

    Twitter has recently added multiple warnings and labels to tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account of the U.S. president, including many that have made unfounded allegations of voting fraud in the U.S. elections.

    Trump also made such tweets on Saturday, including one in which he falsely claimed that he won the election in a "landslide" in "legal votes". Twitter flagged them with a label saying: "This claim about election fraud is disputed".

    The social media platform first hid one of his tweets behind a "public interest" label in May when the president violated the company's policy against glorifying violence.

    Trump will be subject to the same Twitter rules as any other user when President-elect Joe Foreign Policy Whiz Kid Biden
    ...Candidate for president in 2020. You're a lyin' dog-faced pony soldier...
    takes office on Jan. 20, the social media company said last month.

    Twitter places "public interest" notices on some rule-breaking tweets from "world leaders" that would otherwise be removed.

    Such tweets from political candidates and elected or government officials are instead hidden by a warning and Twitter takes actions to restrict their reach. This treatment does not apply to former office holders.

    Twitter Removes ‘Like,’ ‘Reply’ and Retweet Count Functions From Multiple Trump Tweets About the Election
    [GatewayPundit] Twitter disabled “liking” and replying to multiple tweets from President Donald Trump about the election on Saturday morning.
    The platform also removed the retweet count, so that people cannot see how many times it has been shared.

    YouTube Blocks Trump Campaign’s 2 New Election Fraud Ads
    [NTD] YouTube has removed two new ads from the Trump campaign, which allege widespread corruption in the 2020 election and call on voters to contact state legislators “to demand a free and fair election.”

    Clicking the links to the ads takes viewers to YouTube, featuring a black screen with the following message overlaid: “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”

    YouTube did not immediately respond to a query regarding the reason for blocking the ads.

    CPAC 2021 plots alternative to broadcasting on YouTube
    [WashingtonExaminer] The 2021 edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference, heading to Orlando, Florida, is likely to offer its own streaming app now that YouTube has moved to bar videos questioning the 2020 election.

    Because one thing is for sure: CPAC speakers will be questioning the election, drawing attention to fraud, and calling for massive reforms of problem-plagued state election systems.

    Organizers think that the voice leading that call at the Feb. 25-28 event will be President Trump himself. While there is no commitment from Trump, he has attended every conference since 2009 and credits many of his conservative leanings to what he’s heard there.

    His attendance would change the nature of the four-day conference. Typically, in a year that marks a new presidency, potential GOP candidates flock to CPAC for attention.

    "Will he be running in 2024, or will he be a kingmaker at CPAC?" asked one conservative leader.
    Conservative Political Action Conference: 2020-09-08 That look when CNN host gets surprised by a nurse with stunning defense of Trump's COVID response
    Conservative Political Action Conference: 2020-03-04 Carter Page Promises to Reveal 'Explosive Details' About Experience with FBI In Upcoming Book
    Conservative Political Action Conference: 2020-02-29 GOP Leader McCarthy Says Dems Have 'Surrendered to Socialists,' Predicts Republican House Takeover

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